Investor Marc Andreessen said last week that Oracle’s days are numbered.That would come as a surprise to the more than 45,000 Oracle customers and partners gathered in San Francisco for OpenWorld, the biggest tech event of the year in the city.
Almost every hotel in SF is full, the downtown bars are packed, and the city is shutting down Howard Street between the two wings of the Moscone centre. That doesn’t happen when Apple or Google hold a conference. (Although it did happen for Salesforce’s Dreamforce conference last month — for the first time ever.)
Oracle got its start when Larry Ellison and a couple of his partners built a database for the CIA back in the mid-1970s. Now, its database software powers everything from health care to banking to big consumer Internet services, and it expanded into application software and hardware with a bunch of big acquisitions in the 2000s (PeopleSoft, Siebel, and Sun to name three). It’s a financial juggernaut, with more than $9 billion in profit on more than $36 billion in sales over the last four quarters.
The depth of Oracle’s influence becomes even clearer when you look at other companies:
- Salesforce.com, cloud-based CRM and other business management software. Marc Benioff takes potshots at Oracle’s “false cloud,” but he cut his teeth there, and Ellison owns a small stake in the company.
- NetSuite, cloud-based ERP software. Ellison helped found this company, and he and and his family own the majority of it, although he voluntarily limited his voting influence when the company went public in 2007.
- Workday, cloud-based human resources. Its founders, Aneel Bhusri and Dave Duffield, created the company after leaving PeopleSoft following Oracle’s hostile takeover.
- HP, Oracle’s current arch-enemy, boasts former Oracle president Ray Lane as its chairman of the board, while former HP CEO Mark Hurd is now Oracle’s chief of sales.
- Google hired several ex-Oracle executives earlier this year to boost its enterprise business.
There are plenty of other examples, too.
Photo: Matt Rosoff Business Insider
This sign says it all — South of Market (SoMa) is the neighbourhood in San Francisco that’s home to nearly every hot Internet startup based here, including Twitter and Zynga.
As a former 15-year Oracle veteran put it to me recently, never count the company out. “Larry always wins.”